The Lost Pages is an exploration of the complicated relationship between Franz Kafka, author of novels such as The Metamorphosis and The Trial, and his literary executor, Max Brod. Their friendship is an unusual one, and the book examines Brod’s sense of self in relation to Kafka where in early twentieth century Bohemia, he is charged with both taking care of Kafka, and securing his literary talent and manuscripts within the literary worlds of Prague and Germany.
Marija Peričić’s inspiration for the novel came from an article in The New York Times outlining a court squabble between two elderly women over Kafka’s papers and manuscripts they had inherited. Brod, as Kafka’s executor, published Kafka’s manuscripts against his wishes following his death in 1924.
In The Lost Pages, Max struggles with the conflict of his role as literary executor, his sense of self and who Kafka is, and the threat that Kafka poses as a new rising literary star in Prague. Kafka’s success and life is seen through the lens of Brod’s jealousy and feelings of isolation from the people he cares about. The impact this has in fracturing Brod’s mind allows Peričić to explore the points at which Kafka and Brod seem to meld together, interrogating Brod’s role in completing and publishing Kafka’s best known works.
The Lost Pages is an interesting novel, one that uses history, literary circles and personalities to shed new light on the world of Kafka and his writing, showing a different side to the Kafka readers may know from his published works.